Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Critter Farm "firsts"

Our first radishes:

The first time watching our friend, Kelly, from our local farm & feed store try to "hypnotize" our chickens:

Our first time seeing Evening Grosbeaks:

and one of their babies:

My first time seeing bees mating (I must have led a sheltered life; finally the story of the "birds and the bees" makes sense to me!)

My first time brushing a donkey:

...and being watched intently while doing it:

A scary first step out of the stall:

The first run in a new pasture:

The first drink out of a new stock tank:

Roxy's first time seeing the donkeys...:

...And the donkeys' first time seeing Roxy:

Monday, May 26, 2008

Donkeys for Danni

They're here!

Six beautiful donkeys (4 geldings, 2 females) now call Critter Farm their home.

There is so much going on around here today that I leave you with just one more picture for now. The picture below pretty clearly illustrates what yesterday was like. More on everything and everyone tomorrow, but after a rather stressful two-day journey from California, these Devin, the med tech who accompanied them, told me...were "wound tight".

My fuzzy friends were not at all certain that this new barn was a place they wanted to be. It took a lot of human "convincing". This convincing came in the form of pulling, pushing, clapping, coaxing, tempting, and, at times, carrying the hindquarters of cement-footed longears:

All six are now safely in the barn, loudly munching their hay.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

T'was the night before donkeys....

and everything is ready.

Tomorrow afternoon, my six foster donkeys will be arriving from Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue.

There's fresh water in the stock tank:

The mineral and selenium blocks are in place:

A few bales of grass hay and bags of pellet bedding are stored close by:

Hoof picks, a bucket of brushes and lead ropes are hung outside the stalls:

Tools are hanging at the ready...shovel, manure rake, bedding rake and broom:

Each stall has been cleaned and has new bedding in place:

Freshly scrubbed buckets are secured in each stall:

One item remains on our "to-do" list: make a third stall door...hopefully soon:

It won't be long now...

Donkeys are finally coming to live in my barn.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Farm Report...from my mom

On the way to Critter Farm has a guest writer today!

Two weeks ago, my mom, Jutta, and step dad, Bill, spent an entire week lovingly babysitting our Critter Farm, while Jim and I had the nerve to go on were on vacation in Mexico.

Here's what she has to say about their time here on the farm:

On May 4th, my husband Bill and I began caring intimately for 15 precious souls and uncountable chipmunks, multiple insatiable hummingbirds, and two humongous, grey squirrels. The 15 important souls were Roxy the Super Pup, who adores Bill, our dog, Schnauzi, who LOVES me, Walter the bright-eyed bunny, and 12 chickens who are Farmgirl's babies.

The first day we were there, we re-acquainted ourselves with the chickens. They were a little surprised to see us instead of their beloved chicken mom, but the girls went in and out of their coop and into the run nicely except for Sparrow who did not want to go back inside the coop. Bill bribed her with some chick candy, and she finally joined the others on the roost. Po-Roo (now known as Roopert) the rooster attempted to crow, and we praised him lavishly. We encouraged him to keep practicing so that he'd be perfect for Jim...

Our primary task, while at the farm, was to greet the chicken girls in the morning in their new chicken chalet, check their food and water, commune with them, give them chickie candy (scratch) and repeat this at noon.

In the afternoon we were to open the coop and let the girls out into the temporary chicken run - really two dog pens put together with netting over the top to protect them from swooping invaders from above - and then sit there to keep them company. I got some of my most important reading done during this time: "Caring for Your Donkey", which Farmgirl had left on her nightstand for me to read:

The girls, however, tried their best to get my attention by flinging themselves into the dust pretending to be dead. (Very startling to see this the first time!) Or by craning their necks in order to nibble the greenery on the other side of their enclosure and then digging a hole in the dust to pile on top of each other, sometimes five or six at one time. Then followed a fake show of aggression by almost everyone. Threatening wing flapping and swift hammering pecks punctuated with cackles was quite the show.

At night, both dogs slept with us, of course, only Schnauzi fell out of the rather tall bed and it winded her. Subsequent nights she stayed away from the edge and nestled between Bill and me. Roxy took up an entire 1/3 of the bed and snuggled tightly with Bill. Sleeping arrangements remained the same the rest of the nights except that Roxy grew and grew until I had hardly any room on my side.

Farmgirl's younger son, Aidan, was with us one night, and I fixed a great Schnitzel dinner for us. As an athlete he has an admirable appetite, to be followed by great fatigue. But not before he soaked in a tub filled with hundreds of ice cubes to ease his muscle soreness did he give in to sleep.

Bill worked tirelessly in the veggie garden:

and I cooked a lot in the fabulous kitchen. (I thought that's what a farm woman was supposed to do)...
making Earth Bread:

and chocolate chip cookies:

During one morning visit with the chickens, Sparrow decided to jump on Bill's back and could not be persuaded to get down:

To get her down, I finally had to grab her from behind and pry her off. Every time Bill entered the coop she would repeat this show of affection.

Letting the chickens in or out of the coop takes two people to count if all 12 are there. It's really funny, but at one time I counted 13 and Bill counted 11. They were very well guarded at all times though, and we even knew what they do during the night. How? Danni has a baby monitor rigged up in their coop, of course! Doesn't every chicken chalet have an intercom?

The sound is then transmitted into the people's sleeping area in the event that one of the chicken girls should develop a cough.....

Seriously though, this place is magical, and I regretted that the week had to come to an end. We hope to have many occasions to enjoy this beauty and serenity again. Thanks, Danni and Jim, for entrusting us with your treasures.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hay Day!!

I am now the proud owner of one ton of grass hay.
I was pleased to find a small dairy farm about three miles from me who was selling it for half the price of our local farm and feed store.

This is Dale, the owner of Whitewater Dairy Farm, standing on top of the hay bales. Not only did these two nice men load up the hay for me, Dale loaned me his truck - for free - so I wouldn't have to make multiple trips in my smaller truck. Now, that's right neighborly of him!

I got such a thrill driving my first load of hay home:

Here's Teagan in my side view mirror, helping me back down the barn driveway:

Big truck with lots of hay + my barn driveway = food for the new donkeys arriving on Sunday. Now comes the hard part...unloading it:

Hay storage area before unloading:

Hay storage area after unloading:

Sweeping out the back of the truck before returning it:

When we returned the truck, we took a few minutes to check out the dairy farm. Dale has 400 acres and about 400 cows:

Plus a few new baby ducks that had just hatched that morning:

This little guy is about 5 weeks old:

What a sweetie pie:

This baby had quite an active tongue:

Thanks for all your help, Teag. It would have SUCKED without you. Boy, are we going to be sore!